August 15, 2007 Edition

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Drought conditions
worsen in county

Amber Adams
Staff Writer

Drought conditions continue to worsen throughout the county as we see lower than average rainfall and higher than average temperatures.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Lawrence County through the end of the week, saying that the heat wave stretching across the mid-south will become more dangerous today and Thursday as afternoon temperatures climb above 100 degrees and the humidity continues to rise as well.

Heat index readings will rise to between 105 and 110 degrees both today and Thursday afternoon. Area farmers are feeling the affects of this prolonged heat wave as are other residents.

"Because of the high temperatures and lack of rain, farmers have had to pump water to fields longer and more often," said Herb Ginn, extension agent. "Unfortunately this requires farmers to add more hours to a long work day and less money in their pockets."

Ginn added that the use of more diesel fuel and more maintenance on equipment really increases farmers' cost.

The low amount of rainfall this month is dangerous since this is a critical time for soybean and rice development. Soybeans are setting and filling pods and rice grain heads are filling, which requires plenty of water for successful development.

"Adequate timely rainfalls would be priceless," said Ginn.

Aside from the dangers high temperatures offer to crops, they offer more danger to humans and animals.

People who have outside pets should make sure they have plenty of fresh water. "Most people think that water is fresh if it is changed once a day, but with temperatures this high, it gets hot fast," said Sherry Rainwater of Gateway Animal Clinic in Walnut Ridge. She added that water should be changed several times a day.

Pet owners should also keep animals in a shady area, even if just by throwing a cover over their pen. "Sitting directly in the sun can dehydrate animals quickly," Rainwater said.

People should also be wary of exposure to heat which can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat related illnesses are possible.

To avoid heat related illness, one should drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned environment and stay out of the sun.

Church to provide fans

The United Pentecostal Church in Walnut Ridge is providing free fans to the elderly and disabled in the area. Pastor Timothy Potter is working with Pastor Rick Etheridge of Greater Vision Ministries in Paragould to serve the needs of both communities.

The congregation of UPC took a collection and held fund-raisers to purchase the fans. As of now, there are over 50 available. "We want to be known as the church that gives," Potter said, adding that they prefer to deliver the fans, rather than have someone pick them up.

He requests that anyone needing a fan contact him or his wife, Rhonda Jo, at 809-0552 or 809-1787.

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